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Prima ballerina Nana Gollner born

January
08
1919

On this day in 1919, ballerina Nana Gollner was born in El Paso. She began ballet training at age four as treatment for infantile paralysis. She continued dance lessons after moving to Los Angeles, making her first professional appearance there at age fourteen. In her teens Gollner also performed with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. During the 1940s she appeared alternately with the American Ballet Theatre, the Ballet Russe, and the London-based International Ballet. With the latter she became the first twentieth-century North American to gain prima ballerina roles in a European company. While best known for performances in classical ballets such as Giselle and Swan Lake, she also performed memorable parts in works by modern choreographers Anton Dolin, George Balanchine, and Antony Tudor. Gollner married Danish dancer Paul Eilif Petersen in 1942. Frequent dance partners, they used the professional names of Nana Gollner and Paul Petroff. In 1948 Gollner and Petroff formed their own company and toured Europe and South America. In 1950 Gollner returned to New York to perform with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, later known as American Ballet Theatre. The Gollner-Petroff company resumed touring in 1951, and in 1952 Gollner and her family moved to Belgium. She died in Antwerp in 1980.

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